Turkey, Ukraine boost ties amid growing tension with Russia
Turkey and Ukraine have deepened political, military and economic ties through consecutive high-level visits following the Turkish military’s downing of a Russian warplane in November 2015 and the deterioration in ties between Ankara and Moscow.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was in Ankara on March 9 for a high-level strategic cooperation council meeting as the guest of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, only three weeks after Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu paid a snap visit to Kiev.
On the same day as Davutoğlu was in Kiev to hold talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukrainian Chief of General Staff Viktor Muzhenko met with his Turkish counterpart Gen. Hulusi Akar, in a sign of intensified military and defense relations.
Both countries are at odds with Russia both in Eurasia and in the Middle East. Russia’s occupation and later annexation of Crimea from Ukraine has strained relations between Kiev and Moscow, as well as Russia’s relations with the West.
Turkey has also joined the West in saying that it would never recognize the annexation of Crimea, with Davutoğlu saying during his recent trip to Kiev that “Crimea is part of Ukraine.”
In Ankara, Poroshenko also held separate meetings with Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman at parliament and Prime Minister Davutoğlu at the Çankaya Palace. Davutoğlu’s meeting with the Ukrainian president lasted around two-and-half hours. Poroshenko was accompanied by Crimean Tatar representative Abdülcemil Kırımoğlu and Rıfat Çubarov, the head of the World Crimean Tatars Congress and a member of the Ukrainian Parliament.
The situation of Crimean Tatars was discussed in detail during the meetings.
Fifth high-level strategic meeting
The main reason why Poroshenko was in Ankara was the holding of the fifth session of the high-level strategic council between Ukraine and Turkey. The two presidents chaired the council meeting with the participation of their countries’ foreign, defense, trade and energy ministers in order to shape a new phase in bilateral political and economic relations. The two sides were scheduled to sign agreements to boost trade and increase mutual investment.
Poroshenko will also hold meetings with Turkish business representatives on March 10, while he will encourage Turkish investors to remain in Ukraine despite the ongoing political crisis with Russia. Turkey and Ukraine currently enjoy bilateral trade worth $4.5 billion.